The Northwest Ordinance of 1787

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What is the Northwest Ordinance of 1787?

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The Second Continental Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 as a result of settlers spilling into the area after the U.S. had gained the territory in the Revolutionary War with the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The ordinance stated that the new territory would be admitted to the union as no more than 5 and no less than 3 states. This territory went from the Ohio River in the south to the Great Lakes in the north and to the Mississippi River to the west. The territories would use a three-step process of becoming states. First, they would be administered by a governor, secretary, and three judges appointed by Congress. Then, in the second phase, they would have a non-voting member of Congress and an elected assembly when the male voting population reached 5,000. When the population reached 60,000 (in all), the territory would draft a state constitution and ask to be admitted as a state to the union. In addition, the ordinance stated that rights would be granted to members of the territory, including the right of free speech and religion, the right of habeas corpus, and right to a jury trial. This process of becoming a state was used for all subsequent states that came into the union. Finally, the ordinance stated that slavery was not allowed in the Northwest Territory, so the Ohio River became the dividing line between slave and free states until the Civil War.

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